Pontefract Born forward Dale Ferguson is set to take on the best that Rugby League has to offer as part of the Scotland squad and thinks the Bravehearts’ heavy week in Edinburgh has prepared them as well as possible for their forthcoming games against Australia, England and New Zealand.
Scotland warmed up for the Ladbrokes Four Nations tournament by beating a Barrow side 48-16 in Liam Harrison’s Testimonial last Friday night, but looked weary at times after a training camp at Heriot-Watt University’s Oriam Performance Centre.
“We’ve had the best prep,” said Ferguson, who is returning to Super League with former club Huddersfield Giants after three years at Bradford Bulls.
“The coaches said the camp in Edinburgh was going to be tough and it was, really tough. The first week of training was always going to be packed.
“We had two sessions a day but the facilities there were outstanding. Now I’m just looking forward to playing against the best in the world.”
While second-rower Ferguson started in the pack alongside familiar Scotland team-mates Brett Phillips, Adam Walker, Liam Hood and Ben Kavanagh, outgoing Castleford Tigers player Frankie Mariano made his debut when starting at Barrow and Ferguson was joined off the bench by more newcomers in Australian-based duo Sheldon Powe-Hobbs and Billy McConnachie, and Hull KR youngster Kieran Moran.
“It’s what happens with internationals,” explained Ferguson, now 28.
“You’ve got to play with new guys when you come into camp and get on with it as quickly as possible.
“It was about getting to know everyone and get combinations going.
“It was tough as Barrow came out to give to us a bit and represent Harrison. Take no credit away from them but it’s all about building for us, seeing different players in different positions and combinations. We swapped and changed it. It’s building blocks for next week.”
Ferguson has won 11 caps since qualifying through Scottish roots in his family to make his debut in 2010 and the Pontefract-born forward, who started his career with Wakefield Trinity, is now an established senior figure in Steve McCormack’s squad.
“I love playing for Scotland and representing my family,” he added.
“Every time I come into camp it’s always a close knit group of boys. That’s one of the qualities of playing for Scotland. We are a big family-based thing.
“The new boys have gelled and settled in straight away. They’ve been here a week but you’d think they’d have been here a lot longer.”
Ferguson may play against another local lad in former Castleford star Daryl Clark, who is part of the England squad and scored a try in the warm-up game against France last Saturday. Current Tigers star Luke Gale made his debut, starting at half-back.